Download RESISTANCE bulletin issue #132 May 2011 [PDF]: http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist132.pdf
Subscribe to receive Resistance in print for a year, or join one of our free mailing lists to receive PDF or text by email.
Also available: Organise! magazine no. 75
The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
Full contents of RESISTANCE bulletin issue #132 May 2011.
- Everything we won – They want it back!
- Bristol AF on the Battle of Stokes Croft
- Have you been mistreated by Office Angels?
- Eviction resisted at Social Centre Plus
- Benefits Cuts: National Week of Action
- The suggestion box
- After 129 days…a victory for the people of Keratea
- Egypt – the struggle continues
- Yemeni women in the protest movement
- Stop the repression of indigenous communities
- Wildcat strikes
- National Minimum Wage gets a token increase
Everything we’ve won: they want it back
How anarchists understand the cuts: Anarchists understand the cuts not as a failure of Capitalism, or as Capitalism having gone too far, but as one logical outcome of a profit-driven economy, because of the nature of the class system it creates. It has created a class of people who ripped us off to get where they are, and they are now rubbing our faces in it, supported by a state which exists essentially to protect their interests.
The cuts are therefore a calculated ideological attack on the working class at the point where the ruling class otherwise faces financial crisis. They are not a necessity for society as a whole. Because of this, it is pointless to appeal to the state to cease the attack and stop bailing out the bankers instead of punishing us.
Why anarchists organise against the cuts: Our immediate aim is exactly the same as everyone’s: to stop this attack on our economic well-being. As we see it, what little we have as a class, we have won through struggle in previous generations. Now the state is strong enough to take it back again. So anarchists are part of the working class as it defends what it has.
But anarchists don’t argue for a benevolent state, for state-ownership of industry and services. This is where we differ from the trades union leadership and most of the Left. We think we need to go further as a class, to achieve political freedom as well as economic equality. So whilst we are defending what we have, we are also attacking the state, threatening its legitimacy and suggesting to people that we would be better off without it.
Under Thatcherism, as under repressive and uncaring regimes elsewhere and before it, the working class had to look after itself. It established voluntarily what it needed when things got really tough, out of mutual solidarity. So, in the 1980s, strike support groups were set up which made major industrial disputes sustainable. In areas of high unemployment, claimants unions emerged. Where racial minorities were marginalised in inner city ghettos, people gave their time freely to save their youth from self-destruction. In places where women experienced violence, rape crisis centres and refuges were set up. We did these things because no one did it for us.
The re-election of Labour initially brought state funding for some of these projects and their workers got qualifications and wages – not a bad thing in itself. But New Labour started eroding the autonomy of radical projects. Grants were cut but Lottery funding – the great sop – was denied to ‘political’ projects. And what remains of the professionalised voluntary sector is now being demolished by the ConDems.
So this is about us, starting again from scratch, yet again, and with nothing. That’s why anarchists don’t trust state provision: what it gives with one hand, it can take back with the other. That is why we don’t see a contradiction between defending state provision and opposing the state. We all have short-term needs and have to fight to get them met however we can. The process of fighting gives us strength and confidence but also reminds us that all we have is one another. Let’s make the most we can of that fact.
Why we don’t think the TUC can help us in this fight: The unions are not prepared to stand up to the state but only to tip-toe round the law. They won’t risk huge fines by calling for effective action, such as mass or secondary picketing or a general strike.
It is no wonder that the majority of new workers – with the worst pay and conditions – are too afraid to unionise, and that traditional unions are unable to bridge the divide between ‘worker’ and ‘unemployed’. These unions mostly exist to support one section of the working class at the expense of another. Even in this, they are at present so weak that they can’t do much more than negotiate ‘fairer’ redundancy packages for their members, and settle for below-the-cost-of-living pay increases.
In desperation, several major unions are trying to ‘win the argument’ with the state about why it doesn’t need to make the cuts. In this, too much emphasis is being placed on the demand that the super-rich pay their taxes. This all assumes that the ruling class feels accountable to us. How much more evidence do we need that this is not true?
How we should fight the cuts: In short, we need to fight the cuts with immediacy! This is not a practice run or a time to make threats that we can’t back up with action. The state will only make concessions if we threaten its power, to the extent that when capitalists and their tame politicians looks at events in the Arab world, they start to think about what can happen when a people sees its state as illegitimate. We have to make them sweat!
We are already seeing an increase in civil unrest and a shift from reformism to radicalisation in Britain. This will only increase as people’s material circumstances decline. We have to turn despair and isolation into power and collective action, to create a mass movement of resistance together.
We should be:
· Forming General Assemblies on the basis of neighbourhoods, communities, universities, industries and so on. The point is that they cut across divisions like worker/non-worker, student/administrative staff/lecturer. They need to elect instantly recallable delegates to co-ordinate with other assemblies, so that vested interests can’t take hold and power can’t corrupt, and no one can get lazy or sell out. This is the best way to co-ordinate between university and factory occupations, town hall invasions, community-run support groups and so on.
· Using such assemblies to organise for a General Social Strike. The TUC isn’t even able to organise a symbolic one-day general workers’ strike, and with weak ineffectual unions and poor job security, workers can’t risk going it alone. So let’s have massive civil disorder on the part of people who can take action: walk-outs of schools and colleges and massive occupations of our city centres; creative use of facilities like libraries, parks, leisure centres to show workers there that we are behind them; economic blockades e.g. of fuel depos where the workers can’t get away with picketing, and so on.
· Building alternatives to reliance on the state for everything. Again, general assemblies can provide a structure for this. But we can’t replace the state as though it will simply collapse through under-use. We can’t by-pass it by creating islands of autonomy: it will fight back. We can’t pretend that we can manage just fine without it economically either. This is not Cameron’s ‘Big Society’: it is the working class fighting for its life. These alternatives must have revolutionary ideas at their heart and must organise against the state as well as outside it.
Bristol AF on the Battle of Stokes Croft
Around 10pm on Thursday 21st April, people from Stokes Croft and St Pauls in Bristol, reacting to blatant provocation, started attacking riot police gathered from three different forces with glass bottles. What ensued was seven hours of constant clashes; police charges, volleys of glass, brick and concrete, burning barricades and the trashing of a much-loathed Tesco recently forced on a community who for so long battled to stop it opening.
Just before 9pm, police had forcibly removed a small protest from outside the Tesco, which had been there since the store opened a week earlier and set up a cordon closing that stretch of the road. Their stated aim was to enter the squatted ‘Telepathic Heights’, an iconic, graffiti-covered building opposite Tesco. They claimed to be acting on intelligence that suggested some occupants where planning to make petrol bombs with which to attack Tesco. Even if this intelligence was accurate, the number of police was far disproportionate to the half a dozen occupants of the squat.
The blocking of road by the police, the news that Telepathic Heights was threatened and that the Tesco protest had been forcibly broken up meant it wasn’t long before a substantial crowd had gathered. The crowd became more and more angry as police refused to give justification for their presence, pushing or hitting anyone who got close to their lines. The increased tension of recent months, which has built up as austerity measures begin to kick in and the community of Stokes Croft and St Pauls feel ever more ignored and marginalised, had found a focal point and personification in the belligerence of the police. All it took was for someone to tip over a glass recycling bin.
After the initial barrage of bottles, people retreated into St Pauls. As people came out of their doors to see police marching through their streets, many joined in defending against the police. A routine of the police charging then retreating under a hail of bottles and bricks started to develop. Bins were set on fire and charged into police lines, others were used to form makeshift barricades. Around 1pm police retreated to Stokes Croft and soon found themselves and their vans surrounded. The vans were prevented from moving off as others pelted them from a side street. Eventually the police broke out and sped away in the vans out of sight further up the road.
Celebrations broke out as the crowd realised they had taken the streets. Calls of “Smash Tesco!” rang out. Tesco windows and an abandoned police vehicle were smashed and a police trailer full of riot equipment was looted. Police then returned to the area. There were more clashes as police forced people back into St Pauls and down Stokes Croft before finding themselves again outmanoeuvred and at which point they again retreated. This time Tesco’s windows went all the way through as well as the shutters behind. When the police came back, their vans sped straight into the crowd. At least one person was caught behind police lines, unable to get out of Tesco in time and took a frenzied beating whilst on the floor. One man was run over, sustaining an injury to his foot, and others were hit by vans. Protesters made sure that vans would not be able to move in again by dragging a skip into the road. Tesco was entered a second time and objects launched from rooftops made it increasingly difficult for the police.
A number of injuries were sustained and nine arrests made including four of the occupants of Telepathic Heights. Police report that eight of their number were hospitalised.
One local resident noted the police had “thrown a quarter century of semi-decent community policing down the drain” another saying “If they [the police] don’t calm down, things are getting tense enough on a range of other issues for a new pattern to develop of poor community relations and repeat rioting against a police force which has chosen political sides”.
The police provoked this. Turning up in this area of Bristol with such numbers, attacking Telepathic Heights and blatantly using public money to defend the interests of a corporate giant such as Tesco was always going to get a reaction.
Have you been mistreated by Office Angels?We reprint a call from the Solidarity Federation for current or former employees of the temp agency Office Angels to come forward with any grievances they have against this employer.
Solidarity Federation are organising a campaign against Office Angels after an ex-employee asked for our assistance. Dan worked for the London agency for three days in December of last year. He was assured by the company that the lack of a time-sheet would ‘not be a problem’. However, Office Angels are refusing to pay him the wages he is owed – falsely claiming he only worked for one day, despite them having called him at work on his third day. After completely ripping him off, they had the nerve to harass him for seeking advice on an internet discussion forum.
Temporary workers face similar unacceptable conditions every day. They work without sick pay or maternity leave, are vulnerable to unfair and instant dismissals and have no union support. Rising unemployment and a bleak economic climate will force even more of us to accept these precarious conditions – yet another example of working class people being exploited by an economic system that only benefits the rich.The best way to improve our conditions at work and in our communities is by standing together and resisting. We want to hear from any current or previous Office Angels employees that have come into conflict with this company and its culture of disrespect. We know that this is not an isolated incident and the more people get involved, the more pressure we can put on the company to start treating its workers properly.
Eviction Resisted at Social Centre Plus
“Social Centre Plus” is an abandoned Job Centre on Deptford High Street, South London, that local residents have taken over and transformed into an organising space and social centre for the anti-cuts movement. On Tuesday 12th April they faced an eviction ordered by the High Court. Below, we reprint their report of what happened:
SOCIAL CENTRE PLUS, the occupied Job Centre on Deptford High Street, successfully resisted an eviction attempt on the morning of Tuesday 12th. Around 60 people gathered outside the space, linking arms and blocking the front door so as to prevent High Court bailiffs and builders – backed up by a vanload of police – from entering.The victory was achieved following an hour-long stand-off, during which the bailiffs – from Locks Bury Services – were spotted along with Paul Jackson, the site’s landlord, outside the Deptford Project, the café opposite Social Centre Plus, whose owner also wanted the space for a high society art exhibition. There they made a series of frantic phone calls in which they spelt out their reluctance to confront the occupiers inside the anti-cuts space, some of whom were positioned on the building’s roof.Eventually the police informed the bailiffs that they had no intention of intervening, and recommended that they come back another day. Members of the local community remained outside SCP for most of the morning, savouring the success for South East London’s anti-cuts movement.However, the SCP Collective is well aware of the continued threat to the space. A second eviction attempt must be expected, and this time Locks Bury will come unannounced, and with the necessary tools and thugs to remove the occupiers. Despite this, SCP remains committed to hosting and facilitating the local anti-cuts movement, even if they do have to move on from 122 Deptford High Street.With this in mind, SCP hosted a public meeting the night before the eviction resistance in order to coordinate further activities against the government’s brutal cuts, both at local and national level. The NHS, local education and attacks to quality of housing were amongst the issues discussed. Local residents who want to join the borough’s fight back against the cuts are encouraged to get in touch or come along to one of our upcoming Open Days.
Benefits Cuts: National Week of Action
Beginning on 9th April people around the country took part in a National Week of Action against benefits cuts. Atos Origin were the focus of many protests around the country, from Truro to Dundee. The last Labour government replaced Incapacity Benefit with Employment Support Allowance, and introduced a harsh new ‘medical’ test to cut back the number of qualifying claimants. Atos Origin, a French IT company, secured a half a billion pounds contract to carry out these ‘medical’ assessments. The ConDem government is enthusiastically pushing forward Labour’s attack on the sick and disabled. As Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty have put it: “These assessments have nothing to do with the sympathetic care and support of the sick and needy that should be the mark of a civilised society, and everything to do with making the vulnerable pay for a crisis that is none of their making.”
While pickets in Brighton and Liverpool got a positive response from the public and handed out leaflets urging people to oppose these cuts, in Glasgow activists followed up a picket with a raid on the Glasgow offices of the Daily Mail. After walking past the security guard on the ground floor and being let into the offices by sympathetic staff, they demanded that journalists stop lying about disabled people and portraying them as scroungers, handing out leaflets against what they described as anti-claimant propaganda published in the Mail.
The Suggestion Box
“I’m a perception manager” – A public relations guru
The government plans to develop a new section of the census which will measure the general happiness of the nation, instead of simply measuring things like the average number of people living in one household and the employment rate. Is this a good thing? Has the government suddenly decided to start caring about us and how we feel? And why now during a huge economic crisis would the government announce this plan?
Scott Noble’s 2010 documentary Human Resources explores how during the early development of the production-line form of manufacturing and the era of Robert Ford, a study was carried out by leading industrialists; the aim of the study was to further understand how workers reacted to this new form of production and how they could be more effectively managed. This was known as the Hawthorne study. Part of the study was concerned with how the lighting in a workshop affected workers. Rather than immediately going ahead and changing the lighting, factory owners allowed workers to voice their opinions about how they thought their workshops should be lit.
What this part of the study found was that even if the factory owners completely ignored the suggestions of the workers and changed the lighting as they saw fit or didn’t change the lighting at all, the production level in the factory and the general satisfaction of workers increased after the workers were consulted. Even though the exercise of asking the workers how they felt about it had no real effect on what the owners did, the workers felt that they mattered to the owners of the factory. It was also found that in factories where workers were consulted in this deceitful fashion they were far less likely to agitate and encourage dissent. Out of this study and its findings was born an entire school of PR which was funded by industrialists like Rockefeller; PR was quickly identified as a highly effective weapon in the class war from which it arose.
In a more democratic society physical force cannot always be relied on to pacify a population and often makes the population more aware of their situation and their exploiters. Instead the ruling class must find means of manipulating the perceptions which form the beliefs of the population. PR, marketing and advertisements have now become the main way in which the ruling class communicate with the rest of society and all three have developed the science of manipulation more than any other human endeavor.
This new plan for judging the happiness of citizens follows the same logic; the government doesn’t really care how we feel, but they know that when it comes to pacifying a very angry population during an economic crisis, it’s helpful to be able to pretend they care and that we have input. As always with liberal representative democracy, the suggestion box is there but they don’t really give a shit about what you put in it.
After 129 days… a victory for the people of Keratea
After over four months of militant resistance, residents of Keratea, a town in Southern main-land Greece, have won an important victory against the government. Locals had objected to the government’s plans to build a 15.4 hectare landfill site in the area on the grounds that it would irreversibly damage the local environment, adversely affect the health of residents and fell on an area declared to be of archaeological interest.
Resistance started in December when locals engaged in fierce battles with riot police sent to protect construction equipment en-route to the proposed site. Rioting went into consecutive days as riot vans and police were attacked with Molotov cocktails and barricades were erected around the town, forcing a local court to order a temporary halt to the works. All action had been organised and co-ordinated at the grassroots via the use of open, general assemblies.
The court order was, however, merely an attempt to calm the situation and allow the bulk of police resources to be diverted to the General Strike in central Athens through mid-December. Despite halting construction, police occupation of the area continued with many residents arrested and subject to police brutality for their part in the riots. Late December saw an economic blockade of Athens International Airport (around ten miles north of the town).
By January, the Greek High Court had ruled in the government’s favour arguing that the economic benefits of the landfill outweighed the concerns of the residents. Construction continued, but so did local resistance. Near-daily clashes with riot police occurred at the construction site while the government responded by orchestrating raids and using arbitrary arrests against locals.
In late February, rumours circulated throughout the press that the General Strike would once again cause construction to halt. It would be another two months, however, until the government would reconsider its position. So routine were the clashes between riot police and residents over this period that locals would use the city hall’s air raid sirens as well as church bells to call people to the barricades. Construction equipment was also routinely set ablaze.
Early April saw a group of activists dig a two-meter ditch across the Lavriou Highway, leading to Keratea, permanently blocking traffic leading to the town. By this point the locals had cost the Greek government a reported 2.5 million Euros in policing costs, a figure, a high-ranking police officer was forced to admit, that would exceed the cost of building the landfill.
Finally, on Monday April 18th, after 129 days of struggle, riot police withdrew from the town, and the state committed to negotiate with the municipality. There is still a great deal of suspicion that this may be yet another strategic move on the part of the government, but for the time being at least, it is cause for celebration. Even so, the residents are certainly prepared for any double-dealing on the part of the government.
As an Indymedia correspondent noted, the real victory has been in the community that has erupted out of this struggle, “the ‘scouts’”, as they put it, “who up until yesterday were simple employees, workers, pensioners or housewives… the ‘commandos’ who were until yesterday bricklayers, farmers, students, migrants and petit-businessmen”.
If the people of Keratea are successful in halting construction it will represent another high-profile victory for protesters against the government. The victory of the 300 migrant hunger strikers earlier this year as well as the continued popularity of the “we won’t pay” movement and continuing strikes in the public sector paints the picture of an increasingly ungovernable populace. IMF-imposed austerity measures are very unpopular and examples like Keratea only reinforce the need for direct action in combating them. With a continuing recession, escalating unemployment and a severe reduction in wages Greece appears to be a tinder box in which it is only a matter of time before we see scenes like those witnessed in December 2008 again.
Egypt: The Struggle Continues
Egyptian workers have carried on their fight since the downfall of Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, former President of Egypt, earlier this year. Even though the new government has made strikes and demonstrations illegal, working class Egyptians have continued in open defiance of the regime.On the 7th of April, textile workers in Monufia (North of Cairo) went back on strike because their bosses were manipulating workers into resigning following an agreement that sacked workers would be reinstated. The last strike lasted 35 days, halting attempts by the Indorama Group, the Indonesian multinational that owns the factory, to dismantle the plant and lay off the workforce.Further strikes broke out at 14 power stations on the 11th of April, with workers demanding the sacking of Energy Ministry officials accused of corruption, while simultaneously workers continued to protest at the headquarters of a number of companies affiliated to the Suez Canal Authority. Others taking action across the country in recent weeks include gas cylinder distributors, tax authority employees, teachers, nursing students, and 350 workers at a crisp factory.While the rebranding of the Egyptian government under the new Prime Minister, Essam Abdel-Aziz Sharaf, may be enough to divert the attention of the world media from the situation in Egypt, the continuing wave of workers’ direct action across the country shows that ordinary Egyptians are far from satisfied. They are fighting for more than a change in government – they are fighting for a change in their daily lives, and some new figurehead ordering them all back to work is not going to suffice.
A wildcat strike is a strike taken without official union support. Because they don’t have to deal with union bureaucracy, and aren’t subject to trade union legislation, wildcat strikes are often very effective – as in this case.
Construction Workers Locked Out in Saltend
After a wildcat strike last month where workers won a major victory by taking direct action – blockading the gates of the site where they were working – construction workers at Saltend in the East Riding of Yorkshire have faced a five week lockout. Following a mass meeting at which workers learned talks with management had broken down, a sit-in protest took place at the site on Monday 11th April. The locked-out workers have also blockaded roads in protest at their mistreatment.Two trade unions, Unite and GMB, have officially supported the workers protests. However, the response from management – both Redhall, the contractor that directly employs the workers and Vivergo, the BP-led consortium that owns the site – has been poor, with workers offered only £3,300, less than the wages they are owed.
Solidarity for the locked out workers has remained strong, with repair and maintenance workers as well as electricians and scaffolders refusing to cross picket lines to go into the plant while the dispute is ongoing.An emergency meeting of NECC (National Engineering Construction Committee) stewards was called in Leeds for the 18th of April to discuss the situation at the Saltend plant.
Canadian Posties Wildcat
Postal workers in Edmonton, Canada, took wildcat action from Tuesday April 12th to Thursday 14th against extreme pay cuts of up to $28,000 per year imposed by the state-owned Canada Post Corporation. Contractors, hired to scab on the strike, were prevented from entering the Herbert Road distribution centre in St Albert when picketing workers locked arms, blocking the doorway. Many other contractors called in sick or refused to cross the picket. The action followed a previous, successful campaign against forced overtime at the same union branch.
The workers were ordered back to work on Friday 15th by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, but their action was immediately followed by a national vote in favour of a postal strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, if Canada Post doesn’t improve their offer. Canada’s posties aren’t taking Canada Post’s attempts to cut pay and working conditions sitting down – and nor should they. Canada Post has posted profits for 16 consecutive years! There couldn’t be a clearer case of a successful corporation taking advantage of the recession to lighten their load.
Yemeni Women in the Protest Movement
It was heartening to watch a video the Guardian had posted online of a Yemeni woman explaining how women have been participating more and more in the anti-government protests, even speaking in public, and how the deaths of protesters have only made her more determined to continue resisting. Yemen showed their support for women protesters on Sunday 17th April, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across the country in outrage against President Saleh’s statement that women shouldn’t attend rallies.
Women in Britain and all over the world have to contend with sexist religions telling them what they can or cannot do; even when these proscriptions are not enforced by law, they are very frequently enforced by custom. Anarchists believe that no revolution is complete if people are still divided by prejudice, and sexism and patriarchy need to be toppled just like capitalism does.
National Minimum Wage gets a token increase
Low paid workers who receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW) will see their income rise by a paltry 15p an hour from October. This small amount will do nothing to protect the poorest paid from inflation. Inflation is expected to exceed 5% this year. The NMW is rising by just 2.5%, which will do nothing to help workers keep up with the rising cost of food and fuel. Young workers will see their income rise by even less. The rate for 18-20 year olds will grow by just 6p an hour – a 1.2% rise – and for 16-17 year olds by 4p. This means an incredible extra 32p a day! Despite the pathetically small increase which affects over 890,000 workers, the bosses are complaining. David Frost, director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce who we reckon is earning a bit more than £6.08 an hour, said the increase was “the wrong increase at the wrong time”. Shame no one bothered to tell the bankers that when they got their bonuses!
Easter School Occupations
March saw an outbreak of school occupations in France. Reports indicate there were over 250 during the month. Occupations have been in protest to class and school closures, loss of teaching posts, and increases in class sizes. The initiative has come mainly from parents at infant and primary schools, as well as colleges. The first was a 3 hour occupation in Kernéval, but as direct action spread, many of the occupations were overnight or lasted several days. Occupations have often had parties, barbecues and the parents sleeping in tents in the playgrounds. They have continued into the Easter break, and without the pressures caused by summer terms exams, seem unlikely to stop any time soon.
Nurses Occupy Polish Parliament
The Polish Parliament was occupied all night by a group of nurses in protest against the casualisation of their profession. The nurses are angry about legislation aimed at increasing the level of privatisation in health care. Proposed changes in the law would also lead to increased working hours for certain groups of health care professionals, and increased numbers of nurses on temporary contracts. A report on Libcom states that ‘Around Poland, nurses already are grossly underpaid. Many hospitals do not live up to collective agreements or give pay rises that were promised. Currently nurses are striking in Stargard and there is a hunger strike of nurses in Przemysl. There are dozens of other labour conflicts going on in hospitals around the country.’
There has been a more general increase in protests during March, involving both postal workers and miners. Strikes on the railways, in educational institutions and at a Fiat plant also look possible. This comes at the same time as tenant activists are refusing to recognise the legitimacy of Warsaw’s local government, and instead are calling for popular control of public housing and use of empty housing for those in need of housing. Tragically, a housing activist from the Warsaw Tenants Association was killed in a recent protest.
Chiapas Update: Stop the Repression of Indigenous Communities
IN CHIAPAS, MEXICO, the last two years have seen a new phase of attacks against self-organised indigenous communities, such as the Zapatistas and those who adhere to the Zapatista-initiated Other Campaign. These attacks, primarily made by state-sponsored paramilitaries, have been linked to the Tourist Plan for Chiapas, a corporate tourism project.
This tourist plan will not benefit local communities. The Mexican government will have to evict the indigenous communities from the land that is located in the project areas, because they will never sell. The government’s strategy is to use paramilitary groups to take over this land and then buy it from these groups.
The Zapatistas have successfully stopped paramilitary land grabs near the Bolon Ajaw waterfalls and the El Salvador Spa Resort near Agua Clara. Paramilitary attacks have hampered the development of autonomous education and health services by Zapatista communities, but these attacks have also been successfully resisted.
Agua Azul Waterfalls
Adherents of The Other Campaign from San Sebastián Bachajón control the toll booth at the entrance to the Agua Azul Waterfalls. Attempts to remove them from the booth have been constant, and local police and paramilitaries threaten local civilians on a daily basis.
Two years ago the payment booth was dismantled through an operation involving state and federal police. Despite false criminal charges and forced confessions not in their own indigenous language, the local community was able to peacefuly regain control of the toll booth through a consultation process in community assemblies. A roadblock and a national and international solidarity campaign also helped.
In San Sebastian Bachajón, on the 2nd and 3rd February, 117 people were again arrested on false charges during another eviction of the toll booth. 107 were released on February 5th. Five others were released after national and international demonstrations, but five remain in prison.
On 8th April the Other Campaign supporters from San Sebastian Bachajón regained control of the toll booth. The following day over 800 state and federal police and troops violently evicted them. Following this act of repression by the bad government, three of the Other Campaign supporters disappeared.
The corporate tourist plan includes a £149 million road between the popular tourist centres San Cristobal De Las Casas and Palenque. The planned superhighway will take over the communal land of the Mitzitón community, also adherents to the Other Campaign. The local government has used the alleged paramilitary group “Army of God” to harass the community and impose the road resulting in the death of Aurelio Díaz Hernández two years ago.
Roadblocks and another national and international solidarity campaign have also stopped this part of the corporate tourist plan. However, on 13th February the aggressors returned to attack the adherents, resulting in two of the adherents being kidnapped and severely beaten. Army of God members opened fire on the community and Carmen Jiménez Heredia was hit by a bullet and hospitalized in a critical condition.
Given the escalating level of violence by the Mexican state and paramilitary groups, it is clear that there is an offensive against the communities who struggle for a Mexico with justice for all and who oppose the implementation of privatisation projects. So we call to everyone whose heart is below and to the left to demonstrate their solidarity. International pressure combined with community direct action in Chiapas has stopped the repression in the past. Help us do this again. Email the Mexican Ambassador to the UK, firstname.lastname@example.org. More information and a model protest letter can be found at: http://glasgowchiapassolidaritygroup.wordpress.com/2011
Stop the aggression! Stop the harassment of communities!
Freedom for political prisoners! If you go for one of us you go for all of us!
Resistance – May 2011. Monthly bulletin of the Anarchist Federation. http:// www.afed.org.uk